Getting things done

There’s an old saying – if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.  I’m willing to bet if you ask any productive person how they get so many things done, the one thing you will find they all have in common is lists.

Yes, lists!  You know that boring old joke – the To Do list.  I can tell you that, at least for me, it is the only way to untangle a life full of too many things to do.

When my kids were little, I made miniatures and dollhouses to sell at art fairs.  I loved making tiny things and it kept me sane in the preschool years.  Still, little children take a lot of time.

I made a standing list and a daily list.  The standing list was major chores that I had to do over and over, like laundry or grocery shopping.  It included small but easily forgettable things like watering the house plants.

Thirty years later, I am still making lists.  They give me a feeling of accomplishment.  I love crossing things off when I get them done.  Since I tend to lose focus and often end up doing something that is not on the list, I am not above writing it down just so I can cross a line through it!

List making is an art.  Never, ever write down something huge and amorphous like “clean the kitchen.”  Are you kidding? The very size of the job will keep me from starting it.

My lists are granular, as my husband likes to say.  Each little task is listed.  How hard is it to throw a load of towels in the washer? Tick.  One thing done. Take out the trash in the bedroom.  Tick.  Another thing done.

A really big chore that simply can’t be done in one day gets added to the list a bit at a time.  Think of it as nibbling the chore to death.  I give it an hour each day for a week and then reassess.  The trick to that is to make it a specific hour.  If I know I must quilt from 10-11 each morning, then that’s what I do.  (Okay, I’m lying here but play along.  I do try to stick to the list and the more I try, the better I do.)

As with anything else, it takes a while to get used to any schedule and it is easy to find reasons NOT to do things.  Like going to the gym.  It is SO easy to find reasons not to go that I can’t remember the last time I was there.

malvaMy rationalization is that I’m working in the garden nearly every day – for hours at a time.  That’s exercise, right?  Honesty compels me to say no, not most of the time.  Deadheading spent blossoms is not the same as working out.  But as long as I am not trying on clothes, it still seems like a better way to spend my time.

Look at that gorgeous malva – wouldn’t you rather spend time with her than in some sweaty old gym?

So how do YOU get things done?  And how often do you rationalize so you can do what you want, instead of what you ought to be doing?  I am a world champion rationalizer but there are no awards for that, sad to say.


2 thoughts on “Getting things done

  1. Hi Carol,

    When I had children at home I always had a list and a specific time plan. Now that we have an
    empty nest I tend to do chores inbetween the important stuff, like quilting and needlwork. I use the timer on my stove and set it to go off in an hour. That way I can play without thinking about the chore until the buzzer goes off. This makes me get up, move around and get my chore accomplished. I have taken a mental break, stretched and am refreshed to go again. However, I still makes lists for everything. Otherwise out of sight out of mind!

    • Barbara, me, too! Five minutes is enough time to take out trash, fold a load of laundry, wash the sink. I don’t set an alarm but seem to have an internal clock that goes off once an hour. At my age, sitting too long makes everything stiffen up!

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